NISMO NEWS - April 2, 2018
- Nissan aims to chase another Super GT title
- NISMO.tv to live stream Okayama Super GT action
- Nissan Motorsport Supercars squad heads to Tasmania
Nissan chasing another Super GT title as season begins at Okayama
Okayama International Circuit, Japan – Nissan has its sights set on reclaiming the Super GT GT500 crown when the 2018 championship kicks off this weekend at Okayama in Japan.
After claiming the title in 2014 and ‘15 with Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda, the No. 23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 came close to more championship success in the past two years.
Quintarelli and Matsuda led the points until the final race weekend in 2016 and won the final race last year but missed out on the title by a mere three points.
Okayama has been a happy hunting ground for Nissan in the past with Quintarelli and Matsuda winning here in 2016, Matsuda and JP de Oliveira taking victory in 2011 and de Oliveira also winning in 2009.
This week’s opening round of the championship will be live streamed on NISMO.tv on YouTube.
While the Quintarelli/Matsuda combination will join forces for their fifth season together, Nissan enters the 2018 season with an updated line-up with former GT300-winning squad B-Max Racing with NDDP making its GT500 debut with Satoshi Motoyama and Katsumasa Chiyo.
Other driver line-up changes include Daiki Sasaki joining Jann Mardenborough at Team IMPUL, while last year’s Japanese Formula 3 champion Mitsunori Takaboshi joins de Oliveira at Kondo Racing.
The Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 machines also have been updated for 2018.
“We had a really good car at the end of last year, but during the off-season, NISMO worked hard to improve the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 even more,” Quintarelli said.
“Aerodynamically, the car has changed in a few key areas, and we are confident we have made a good step forward.
“Under Super GT regulations we can only use two engines throughout the entire year, but our engine guys have also worked hard on improvements too.”
Extensive pre-season testing has included runs at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit as well as at Motegi, Fuji and Okayama in Japan.
“In the Sepang tests we tried the new aerodynamics, and the car felt much better to drive under hard-braking corners,” Quintarelli said.
“In Japan, we finalized the car set-up based on new aerodynamic spec and are happy about the base we have now.”
“I’m very motivated for the year ahead. Tsugio [Matsuda] and I are going to give it our best shot, and my target is to chase down my fifth Super GT title.”
Sunday’s Super GT opening round will go green at 2:40 pm Japan time on April 8. International fans can watch the live stream at live.NISMO.tv in Europe and the eastern US on Sunday morning from 7:30 am in Europe, 6:30 am in the UK and in the US from 1:30 am (Eastern). West Coast US fans can tune in Saturday night from 10:30 pm (Pacific).
Tasmanian challenge looms for Nissan Motorsport in Australian Supercars
Symmons Plains Raceway, Launceston, Tasmania – The Nissan Motorsport squad heads across Australia's Bass Strait this week for round three of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at Tasmania's Symmons Plains Raceway.
Despite not being on the Australian mainland, Symmons Plains is actually one of the oldest events on the Supercars calendar – holding rounds of the Australian Touring Car Championship since 1969.
Behind Melbourne's Sandown Raceway, Symmons Plains has hosted the second most rounds in championship history.
Last year, the now-retired Todd Kelly led the charge for the Nissan Altima team, qualifying in the top ten and scoring a pair of top ten finishes.
Kelly's brother Rick is looking to bounce back this weekend after suffering contact with the spinning car of James Courtney in the final race at the Australian Grand Prix weekend.
"We have pretty good speed in Tassie, but you never know what to expect when you head to a track these days," Kelly said.
"The category shifts so quickly. The whole team is working hard and hasn’t been rewarded for that yet.
"We’ll work even harder to get the results we demand of ourselves."
Swiss racer Simona De Silvestro is looking forward to returning to a number of circuits on the Supercars championship calendar for the second time.
“I thought it was pretty interesting when I did the first track walk at Symmons Plains last year,” she said.
“I was pretty amazed how small it was, but it creates a lot of good racing so I’m really looking forward to going there.
“The long straight is quite fast and the hairpin is a really big braking zone, so there’s a lot of lap time you can gain or lose there. It’s a tricky little place.
“Turn one is really tricky with the brake bias, you have to change it around quite a lot. I’ve never had to do that before, and it’s one of those tracks you really have to be on top of it.”
Nissan driver Michael Caruso will be looking to add to his tally of top ten finishes in 2018, having scored one in Adelaide and two in Melbourne, while newcomer Andre Heimgartner is chasing his first top ten since he joined the Nissan team at a track where he has previously finished as high as eighth.
HIGH RES DOWNLOADS
Download images previewing the opening round of the 2018 Super GT Championship at Okayama.
Take a ride around with Ronnie Quintarelli as he pilots the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 at last year's NISMO Festival at Fuji Speedway.
- Super GT, Okayama International Circuit, Japan
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Symmons Plains Raceway, Tasmania, Australia
- European Le Mans Series, Circuit Paul Ricard, France
- IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Long Beach, California, USA
- Blancpain GT Series Asia, Sepang, Malaysia